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COVID-19 soars to another dizzying height in Illinois: 12,438 new cases

The virus has claimed an average of 57 Illinois lives per day over the last week, compared to 30 per day this time last month. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker listens as Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike gives updates on the latest COVID-19 numbers and restrictions during a daily COVID-19 update at the James R. Thompson Center in the Loop on Thursday.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker listens as Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike gives updates on the latest COVID-19 numbers and restrictions during a daily COVID-19 update at the James R. Thompson Center in the Loop on Thursday.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

As an election widely viewed as a referendum on the federal handling of the coronavirus pandemic appeared to come to a resolution on Saturday, Illinois’ stunning COVID-19 resurgence continued unabated as public health officials announced a third straight record-shattering day of 12,438 new confirmed and probable cases statewide.

That’s 2,000 more cases than were reported a day earlier by the Illinois Department of Public Health, and more than triple the state’s springtime daily high of 4,014 cases reported in mid-May, during Illinois’ first peak. Friday was also the first day state health officials began including probable cases in their daily tallies.

But positivity rates and hospital figures leave no doubt the virus has rebounded with a vengeance since the start of October, with Illinois steadily deteriorating into one of the nation’s most severe hot-spot states.

The new cases were confirmed among 98,418 tests, meaning about 12.6% of the latest tests submitted to the state came back positive — the highest proportion of positives in a single day since May 14.

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Illinois’ seven-day average testing positivity rate, the metric Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s health team uses to gauge how rapidly the virus is spreading, has now soared to 10.3%, reaching double digits for the first time in five months.

More troubling is the fact Illinois hospitals were treating 4,250 coronavirus patients as of Friday night, the most beds occupied since mid-May. Of those, 367 were using ventilators. Experts say patients’ survival rates plummet when they require ventilators.

As case numbers have exploded, coronavirus deaths have steadily increased, too. The state Department of Public Health attributed 76 more fatalities to the virus, raising the state’s death toll to 10,154. The latest victims included 37 Chicago-area residents.

The virus has claimed an average of 57 Illinois lives per day over the last week, compared to 30 per day this time last month.

Pritzker — who announced he tested negative for the virus following a possible exposure last week — has pleaded with residents to follow social distancing and masking guidelines, and on Friday, he said more stringent mitigation measures similar to his springtime stay-at-home order were not off the table.

“It’s the last thing I want to do, but I’m ready to do it,” Pritzker said.

Indoor service has been banned at bars and restaurants statewide due to the flaring infection numbers. Chicago is up to 11.4% positivity, with suburban Cook County at 11.6%.

Since March, 8.3 million coronavirus tests have been administered in Illinois, with nearly 478,000 people confirmed to carry the virus.